Spiderman Friend or Foe is the definition of a video game button masher that creates nothing but repetitive gameplay.
Spiderman is recruited by Nick Fury to stop an onslaught of “phantoms.” These “phantoms” are basically robot controlled Venoms…which gives the game its excuse to kill the same enemy over and over again. Despite looking like a decent co-op beat’em up, this game will leave a bland taste in gamers’ mouths as the repetition almost becomes unbearable.
There are basically three different types of enemies: small, medium, and large. While there are slight variations on the cosmetic look of these enemies, all can be defeated with a one button combo or by using simple web abilities. Once enemies are defeated, Spiderman gains experience points which can be used to unlock new abilities and stat enhancers.
Enemies are not the only thing that repeats. Every single level plays exactly the same: enemies spawn, kill enemies, path opens, kill more enemies, new path opens, fight boss, boss becomes your teammate. The game even makes fun of itself in one of the later levels when Spiderman announces this very pattern to the gamer. But no matter which level or environment you play in, Spiderman is sure to activate a bridge and walk over it. Yup, you can forget about webslinging and wall crawling – the highlight of all the next-gen Spiderman games. Instead, Spiderman gets to a walk across a bridge. How awesome is that? In fact, the player will activate and cross so many bridges in this game, the title should have been called Bridge Simulator 2007… but then again, it would be in insult to bridges everywhere as the sub-par graphics do not bring any excitement to the table.
The best part about this game is probably the drop-in/drop-out co-op gameplay. At any time, a player can simply tap the “A” button and get in on the action, taking a note from Lego Star Wars. But this beat’em up game really isn’t that much more fun co-op as it is single player. And what’s worst, it is restricted to local co-op only; there is no online play.
Trying to make an incentive for players to look for hidden items, Achievements and Vs. mode levels can be unlocked if all the items in each stage are collected. While I have played a good number of 360 titles, I can honestly say that Spiderman Friend or Foe is the easiest way to earn 925 gamerpoints. In about 3-5 hours, you can drastically increase your gamerscore as the achievements are nothing more than fully completing each level and upgrading Spiderman. Gamerscore whores are sure to check out this title.
Running into classic villains and other Marvel characters is one feather in this game’s hat. It is too bad that each boss battle is rather bland and always results the same way: with Spiderman joining up with the baddie he just beat up. Luckily, each character is given voice through talent. And even though the cast from the movies do not return to their roles for this game, the stand-ins do a nice job and can provide some comical relief, especially when the computer speaks.
After each level, the player is taken back to the Helicarrier home base. Here, the player can swap co-op buddies and purchase upgrades. However, purchasing upgrades almost seems worthless. Once the player figures out that one grab-skill works particularly well against any type of bad guy, there seems little reason to upgrade…other than to gain achievements. Even though I fully upgraded Spiderman, I never used the web-shot or any other web move other than the simple grab technique. This balancing issue seems to throw the game off by offering needless moves to the player repertoire.
By hitting UP on the d-pad, the player can initiate a super attack with the co-op partner. This move kills all enemies on screen. This again, throws the balance of the game off as I always saved this super move for when I had to fight larger villains, which often posed as mini-bosses. This move alone allows the player to speed through levels and gain those achievement points quicker.
Spiderman: Friend or Foe is a weak attempt to cash in on consumers who don’t know any better. Using the Spiderman name as a flagship to make a quick buck is wrong and I hope consumers do not fall into this horrible trap. The repetitive gameplay is unforgivable, the lack of online play puts this game back in the stone age, and the lame level design (darn bridges) have no place in the year 2007. This game was released to all major consoles but I can only see 360 benefiting as gaining achievements is relativity easy. The game’s ending leaves the story open for a sequel, but let’s hope that never happens.